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South Georgia State College celebrated its graduates during two commencement ceremonies May 13 on the Waycross Campus. Family members and friends gathered inside the Waycross Campus Gymnasium to cheer on a portion of the 343 graduates from summer and fall 2021 and spring 2022.
Georgia State Senator Tyler Harper served as the commencement speaker for the 12:30 pm afternoon ceremony. Harper offered congratulations to the graduates for their academic accomplishments while also reminding them of the value of the degree they received during the ceremony.
“Congratulations! We are all here today to commemorate the hard work and dedication you have put into earning this achievement,” Harper told the graduates. “No other accomplishment leads to more social and economic mobility than a college degree. While times have certainly changed, the one thing that has not is the value of an education.”
Harper encouraged the graduates to realize their full potential as they look to the future.
“Remember this – maturity, determination, and resolve have no age,” Harper said. “There is truly no limit to your potential if you apply yourself, and the end of a situation is not what defines you as an academic or as a person – it’s the struggles that we overcome that shape us into the person we are meant to be.”
In addition to personal growth, Harper challenged the graduates to make an impact in their communities and beyond.
“I challenge you to make our society and nation better than you received it. With your help, we can continue to move our state forward. Through your service, we can build strong communities, and with your leadership, we can bring our communities together,” said Harper.
Mrs. Kristy Foreman, owner of an Ellianos Coffee Company franchise in Waycross, was the commencement speaker for the 7 p.m. evening ceremony. Foreman is a native of Ware County who attended the former Waycross College, moved away to finish her degree and begin her career, and decided to return home to start her own business. The Waycross Ellianos franchise celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.
Like Senator Harper, Foreman congratulated the graduates on achieving the distinction of earning a college degree.
“You should be so proud of where you are,” Foreman told the graduates. “You are so significant, every one of you.
Foreman’s challenge was for the graduates to remember those who helped them accomplish their academic goals. “Someone, somewhere in this room has had an impact on you being where you are tonight. Always look for those people in the room who have helped you get to where you are,” said Foreman.
Foreman shared her experiences of starting her own business and how her family, Ellianos employees, and community partners believed in her and have helped to make her business successful.
“I have learned how to say thank you. Showing how grateful you are is the greatest feeling. Take it all in. Stop, and say thank you. As you progress in your career, stop and tell the people behind you, ‘Thanks for following me,’” Foreman said.
Foreman shared with the graduates that being grateful is the key to living an extraordinary life, and she encouraged them to use that advice in their own lives.
“Choose kindness. Choose to be grateful. Choose to say thank you. Choose to put someone ahead of you one time and see how that feels,” said Foreman.
SGSC President Dr. Ingrid Thompson-Sellers shared key academic accomplishments from the 2021-2022 academic year during each ceremony.
SGSC’s newest baccalaureate degree program, Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET), welcomed its first cohort of 21 students during the fall 2021 semester. Additional students were enrolled in the program in spring 2022, and all MET students received scholarship support during their first year in the program thanks to support from SGSC’s community partners. To date, a total of 67 students have been accepted into the fall 2022 cohort for the MET degree.
The Bachelor of Science in Management degree was launched in fall 2016 and has reached the milestone of graduating over 100 graduates from the program, Thompson-Sellers said. In addition, the bachelor’s degree programs in Long-Term Healthcare Management, Public Service Leadership, and Professional, Business, and Technical Writing awarded degrees for the first time in spring 2022.
Thompson-Sellers included surprise recognitions during her remarks, congratulating Enrollment Services Advisor Lynn Crews and Instructional Technology Specialist Susan Brantley for their service to SGSC and its students.
Crews has been with the institution for over 28 years and “has a supportive and positive attitude,” Thompson-Sellers said. “She is always there for our students and is affectionately known as the mom to our men’s basketball team.
Brantley has been with SGSC for over 25 years. Thompson-Sellers said Brantley is “quiet and unassuming, but she is passionate about our students, our college, and technology. We appreciate Lynn and Susan.”
Following the ceremonial moving of the tassels, Thompson-Sellers offered her congratulations to the graduates.
“You are now alumni of South Georgia State College,” Thompson-Sellers told the graduates. “We wish you the very best of success and hope you will stay in touch and remember your alma mater as you enter the various phases of your personal and professional life. Congratulations, and Go Hawks!”
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